My votes in 2011
I was looking back over Asheville City Council's achievments in 2011 in recent weeks, and compiled the voting record posted below. At first I was also keeping track of unanimous votes (7-0), but the list was long and didn't seem particularly informative in terms of positions taken by each Council member.
Among the 6-1 votes, I note that I was in the minority twice, opposing eviction of Occupy Asheville from Lexington Ave. and opposing sale of naming rights to the Asheville Civic Center.
The City's position on Occupy remains in limbo at this writing, and while there were drawbacks to the Lexington Ave. location, there are clearly problems with the current site of the protest. In the aftermath of the move from Lex I learned more about the conflict with the resident homeless population at that location and see now that the choice Council made initially, permitting the Lex encampment, was a mistake. So this is one vote I would change in retrospect.
Concerning naming rights, I remain convinced that we sold the good name of Asheville far too cheaply. But I am very pleased at the outcome of my publicization of Ingles' expressed interest, then denied by others on Council, but now resulting in a $100,000 offer from the grocery giant for some sort of interior, exclusive signage. If we're going to sell ourselves, we might as well get every penny we can in the process.
I cast the single minority vote (5-1) concerning incentive packages for Weirbridge Village and Linamar. (Councilwoman Manheimer recused/absent.) This is consistent with my long-stated position that forcing existing tax payers to subsidize new businesses is not good for the community. We and every other municipality and state are being played by large corporations who play the "location" game. Small businesses are the core of our economy and the source of most new jobs, we ought not to reward the big players at the expense of the small.
I was in a two-vote minority twice, joining Councilman Smith to oppose construction of the $15 million parking deck on Biltmore Ave. and to oppose sign variances for an Ingles grocery store.
The climb of oil prices in recent months, despite a sagging global economy, makes me more certain than ever that parking projections based on past traffic are flawed and I believe the City will come to regret its diversion of funds away from transit improvements.
Concerning Ingles' signage, I see no reason to permit the grocery giant to violate our sign ordinances simply because they prefer to have excessive displays on the front of their buildings. As I noted during the hearing, "I find it impossible to believe that a person will turn off Smoky Park Highway at the Ingles sign and not be able to find the store on the other side of the parking lot."
Other votes are more or less self-explanatory. I would note that I initially opposed admission of mobile food trucks to the downtown area, based on pollution and noise from electric generators. Following inclusion of a requirement that food trucks plug in rather than run generators downtown, I voted in favor of the trucks on the second reading.